Pointing the Finger of Doubt

Today’s Gospel recounts the origin of the expression “Doubting Thomas,” in which St. Thomas refuses to believe in the Resurrection until he has placed his finger into Christ’s nail wounds and his hand into Christ’s side (St. John 20:24-31).

Here’s a photo I took of the major relics housed in the Basilica of the Holy Cross in Jerusalem, which is actually located in Rome atop soil that St. Helen, mother of the Emperor Constantine, transported from Jerusalem. There are relics of the True Cross, etc., but I’m posting the photo because the relic in the upper left corner of this photo is of St. Thomas’ finger, the one he put in Our Lord’s wounds.

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The relic is a finger bone encased in a reliquary shaped like a finger. The Young Fogeys blog has a better photo (http://youngfogeys.blogspot.com/2008/03/2nd-sunday-of-easter.html). The author of the linked article had the same bright idea I did — to post on St. Thomas’ finger for the Second Sunday of Easter, at the end of what Eastern Christians call Bright Week.

The Empty Cross

I once listened to a Protestant radio show where the host was explaining why Protestants display a cross instead of a crucifix. The distinction is that a crucifix includes a corpus, an image of Our Lord’s Body. He said something like, “Because the crucifixion is over! It was once and for all! Christ is no longer on the cross — He is risen.”

This argument is preposterous. What he was saying was, “It is inappropriate to display artistic representations of past historical events.” If that is the case, why is it okay to represent the crucifixion in Holy Scripture, which is a work of literary art? All four Gospels have a Passion narrative. Why? It’s over. Why are we still talking about it? Christ is risen! But St. Paul said at I Cor. 2:2, “For I judged not myself to know anything among you, but Jesus Christ, and Him crucified.” Just as St. Paul’s preaching focused on the redemption Christ wrought for us on the Cross, so too does Catholic visual artwork focus on the Crucifixion.

In contrast, the Protestant radio host exposed himself as an irrational fool. If you belong to some heretical sect that is scared to portray Christ’s saving death on the Cross, get out of it and join the one true Church, which Christ founded and which still honors His Crucifixion.

Finding the Invention of the Cross

I like puns, and the title is a bit of one. Prior to 1960, the Feast of the Invention of the Cross was celebrated on May 3. “Invention” here means “finding,” specifically St. Helena’s discovery of the True Cross when she visited Jerusalem in the early 300s. We still celebrate the Feast of the Exaltation of the Cross on September 14, which commemorates the (wicked, by the way) Emperor Heraclius’ recovery of the True Cross from the Sassanid Persians in 600s. Prior to Vatican II, the liturgical wreckers at the Vatican decided that the Holy Cross by which Our Lord and Savior Jesus redeemed the world deserved only one feast day, not two, so they deleted the Invention of the Cross. Look in your 1962 Roman Calendar, and you will not find it.

Which is sad. Because however unpopular a kind-of-sort-of duplicative feast day might be to closeted Freemasons in Rome, there is likely some group of Catholics somewhere in the world for whom that is their patronal feast. In certain parts of Mexico and the United States, Catholics of Mexican ancestry traditionally celebrated the Invention of the Cross on May 3 by performing the matachines, a type of ritual dance with Native American origins.

You can find a lot of videos of these dances on YouTube if you search for matachines. Here’s a video showing matachines dancers apparently dancing in honor of the Holy Cross. Click here for information about the matachines and their traditional celebration in Texas on May 3.